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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It's Independence Day. Let's take a break from parades, patriotic songs and pyrotechnics to think about the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

Remembering 'Britain's Schindler'

Jul 4, 2015
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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

In just over 18 months, Barack Obama will join the ranks of ex-presidents. He'll be 55 when he leaves office, among the youngest to become a former president, alongside Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

President Carter remains a model of what an active, productive life can look like after leaving the White House. He looks back on that life in his new memoir, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, beginning with growing up with black friends in the Jim Crow South.

'Shadowshaper' Paints A Vibrant Picture

Jul 4, 2015

Shadowshaper had me crying at 3 percent of the e-book. Not because it was sad, but because I am one giant button when it comes to stories about family, heritage, language, art, and the magic mixed up in them, and this book knew just where to push.

Independence Day is typically filled with revelry — many people drink American beer, shoot explosives into the sky and rock red, white and blue apparel that may not be appropriate for everyday wear. It's also a day full of interesting, quirky history that people usually don't talk about between filling their mouths with hot dogs and singing The Star Spangled Banner off-key.

But if you're destined to spend your holiday at, say, a company cookout, here are five things you may not have known about Independence Day that you can use as conversation starters:

It's July Fourth weekend — a time that many Americans dedicate to celebrating democracy and the birth of the United States. But more than two centuries ago, when the Revolutionary War ended with an American victory, not everyone was celebrating.

It's estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of the population back then still remained loyal to the British Crown. Naturally, they weren't so thrilled by the climactic British surrender at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, which effectively sealed the fate of King George's attempt to keep the colonists in line.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Rachel Martin, and I have a confession to make. It's the Fourth of July weekend, and there was a really big movie made in 1975, 40 years ago, pegged to this weekend - "Jaws."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JAWS")

For more than a century, the copper spires of St. Laurentius have stood tall over Philadelphia's Fishtown. But the city's oldest Polish church — founded in 1882 — could soon face the wrecking ball.

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